Stories about: contraception

Fathoming teen attitudes about, knowledge of and experience with long-acting contraception


Long-acting forms of contraception (think IUDs, or hormone implants that go under the skin) have long been available. But despite their effectiveness and ease of use, it’s been a tumultuous road to public acceptability. And while clinicians have a good sense of adult attitudes, teenagers’ attitudes toward such contraceptives – together called long-acting reversible contraceptives, or LARC – are less well understood.

“Rates of teenage pregnancy are going down nationally, but until very recently stayed steady in our clinic population,” says Pamela Burke, a nurse practitioner in Children’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. “Teenage girls who have access to LARC could have some advantage over their peers through the use of a more reliable birth control method, one that is not dependent upon human effort or memory.”

Burke, with colleagues at Children’s Martha Elliot Health Center (MEHC), the Dimock Center in Roxbury and the Division of Family Planning at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), is currently running a study aimed at understanding teen’s knowledge about and attitudes toward LARC.

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Making sperm impotent

A patch-clamp recording captures the electrical activity of a single sperm cell.

It’s found only in the tails of sperm. It takes seven genes to build it. It gets activated as the sperm gets closer to the egg, giving it that extra whip and thrust to make it across the finish line.

David Clapham, its discoverer, named it CatSper. Blocking it could literally make sperm impotent. This could be the basis of a new contraceptive gel or a pill that could be used by men or women.

And that’s of interest to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With the world’s population projected to reach 7 billion this year,

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